sometimes we use terms in christianity that can seem to get muddled in the exhange of conversations. the term ‘false prophet’ is one of them. some camps within christianity use the term to signify someone who is ‘preaching’ or teaching a different version to jesus and his story. it doesn’t even have to actually veer off the orthodox track for some to get all up in arms before they start callng someone else a ‘false prophet’. others use it to speak of people in terms of not simply what is being taught but also how it is being taught. several places jesus seemed to think that a public display of preaching for praise, or preaching to make yourself look good was also the characteristic of someone who may have lost the plot a bit. my recent post was shedding a bit more light on the verses where jesus talks of the narrow gate and the wide gate, which as we learned isn’t an ‘who’s saved and who’s not saved’ mini-parable.
well, in that context (Matthew 7), couched around those verses were talk of false prophets. now, as we learned in the previous post, gospel in the aramaic (the speaking language of jesus) doesn’t mean good news. its the word sevartha, which only means hope across all contexts. it is maleable. depending upon the circumstance of each person, hope can look different. to the bloated babies in africa, getting a meal looks like hope to them. for the woman struggling to pay the bills, paying that bill is hope. that is the gospel for them. they are being ‘saved’ in those circumstances. and so in that light, the gospel than becomes something both general yet specific at the same time.
so the if the gospel is hope, than what is a false prophet? a false prophet is someone who speaks about everything but hope. someone who is ‘anti-hope’. someone who laces their words with things that look like hope but don’t really mean it. giving someone hope is an incredibly delicate process. if someone gives another hope and than strips them of that hope its as if they’ve just met the real wizard behind the curtain.
they’ve been duped.
in fact, in the midst of having false hope, this newfound betrayal of hope has ushered in a new kind of depressive hope that won’t leave on a whim, in fact, it will make them lose hope in others that may even want to intentionally help them. see how damaging it can be when we preach ‘false gospels’?
mugabe would be a good example of someone who is a false prophet. one moment he promises the necessary change for a government to have to go through for a country to turn itself it around, then he turn arounds and does the exact opposite. he isn’t living what he’s saying. he isn’t just relinquishing hope from his people, he is murdering hope right in front of their eyes. see false prophets don’t have to exist only in the church, i think that is where some can start, but then it moves out from there. but its incredibly important that we ‘preach’ the gospel (remember, gospel means hope) intentionally. that when we promise some sort of hope in whatever form, that we follow through.
when we seek to use the term ‘false prophet’ in terms of someone re-introducing jesus in a different perspective, we almost cheapen the process of discovery. we also denigrate the person who is lying in an alley somewhere thinking about suicide. because while we are trying to figure out if there ‘real jesus’ will ever stand up, the person waiting for hope could be losing it to the point of no return. not saying that trying to re-discover jesus and who the real one is isn’t important, but if jesus spent most of his time with people and finding ways to restore hope, shouldn’t we?